Summer is almost here, and for a lot of children who receive services through the public school system, that means a reduction in speech therapy (or possibly no speech therapy) over the upcoming months.
Here are some ideas to help a child practice his or her speech and language skills at home while doing fun summer activities:
For school-aged children:
(1) Talk about the vocabulary related to any trips or vacations planned (e.g., Where are you going? What kinds of things will you see there?). Take a lot of pictures on the trip to capture all of the events that take place. If the child is working on articulation skills for a specific sound, try to take pictures of all of the objects that one will find with that sound in it. Upon returning from the trip, print the pictures and have the child help organize them into an album by putting them in the correct order in which they occurred on the trip. The album can then act as the child's own personal vacation story book. Have the child use the pictures to re-tell the events that took place on the trip, using appropriate vocabulary, grammatically correct sentences, and/or the speech sound(s) that he/she is practicing.
(2) Go on "speech scavenger hunts." One doesn't have to be on vacation to search for objects with a child's speech sound(s). Search for objects at the park, on a hike, at the beach, or even in the backyard. Let the child make a special "treasure chest" using an old tissue box or shoe box and collect the objects inside. One can take the objects out each day and practice saying their names.
For Toddlers & Preschoolers:
(1) If a child has a sand table that he/she enjoys playing with, one can bury various objects/toys in the sand that are related to vocab or speech sound(s) that the child is working on (e.g., If the child is working on /b/ sounds, one can hide a ball, or toy banana, or bear). One can use a water table or rice table for the same activity.
(2) Blow bubbles outside. Practice making requests and modeling language such as "up", "down", "pop", "open," etc.
(3) Check out story times and children’s programs at the library. When possible, borrow the books that are read during story time to allow the child to explore them at home as well. Children often benefit from repeated exposure in order to learn new vocabulary and concepts in stories.